Why Younger Women Marry Older Men (It’s Not Always About Money). The Jerry Hall–Rupert Murdoch engagement actually make sense
If you haven’t yet heard, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch 84, recently announced that he’s getting hitched to former supermodel Jerry Hall, 59.
Now granted, anytime somebody finds true love, you’d be a cynical dick not to root for them. But something about this union seems . . . weird.
And not because they’re getting married after dating for only a few months.
He’s old enough to be her father. In fact, she was born the same year he married his first wife.
When a woman falls for a guy 25 years her senior, it’s difficult to wrap our collective heads around it. And Murdoch and Hall are especially confounding.
Not for the snarky reasons that people bring up on social media, but for the exact opposite.
This isn’t your usual “young woman marries rich old dude for the money” scenario.
Hall is not exactly a wide-eyed college student, being seduced by a worldly older man who buys her expensive gifts.
For one thing, she’s rich, too, with a net worth of $15 million. Not $12.8-billion Murdoch rich, but you won’t catch her buying Powerball tickets.
And we seriously doubt she’s attracted to Murdoch’s worldliness. She was married to Mick freaking Jagger for more than 20 years, so we’re pretty sure she’s seen it all, and then some.
If you take those factors out of the equation, what could possibly explain this unlikely walk down the aisle?
Even without his immense wealth, Murdoch’s decision to marry young isn’t all that uncommon. This will be his fourth marriage, and according to an analysis of census data from Pew Research, when men remarry, they usually go for someone younger.
About 20 percent of men who are newly remarried have a wife who is at least 10 years younger than he is.
But what about Hall? That’s the real puzzler here.
At least biologically, it makes sense why a younger woman would feel more comfortable with an older man.
Neuropsychiatrist Dr. LouAnn Brizendine, author of The Female Brain, says that the brain development in girls happens much faster than for boys—sometimes by as much as two years—and guys don’t really catch up until at least their early 20s.
But that doesn’t explain Hall and Murdoch. Their brains are pretty much cooked.
Gary Lewandowski, Ph.D, Chair of the Department of Psychology at Monmouth University and co-creator of the website Science of Relationships, says that men and women have very different “mate values” that make them attractive to potential suitors.
Back in the caveman days, your “mate value” might’ve been your ability to hunt a saber tooth tiger, or having a womb that wouldn’t quit. Today, our mate value has a slightly different criteria.
“For men, it comes from money, status, and power,” he says. “And for women it comes from youth and physical appearance.”
“Murdoch has more power and status,” says Lewandowski, “and Hall has more youth and beauty. So in the mating market, they are essentially trading their sources of mate value for each other.”
That may be true on some fundamental level, but it still feels too simplistic.
There must be more to it than, “She’s young and hot, and he’s old and rich.” The real world has more shades of complexity than that, right?
Another theory is that while the two are years apart, they are not worlds apart.
Hall and Murdoch are likely living similar lives, running in similar circles, doing rich-people things. This love story might have a much different ending if the multi-billionaire was marrying, say, a 59-year-old retired school teacher from Tallahassee.
“A key indicator of attractiveness is similarity,” says Sean Horan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communication at Texas State University. “We might not understand it from the outsider perspective, but something exists between them that draws them together.”
But love is not just about finding your doppelganger. It also helps, says Lewandowski, that their talents and experiences are so different.
Between the two of them, he says, “they likely have hundreds of interesting stories and experiences to keep the relationship interesting.”
Attraction, says Lewandowski, is not just a desire for them; it’s a reflection on how we see (or want to see) ourselves.
In other words, we pick our romantic partners because they represent who we’d like to be.
“If you aspire to be more caring and kind, finding a partner who has those traits would be particularly attractive,” says Lewandowski.
Does this mean Murdoch looks in the mirror and imagines a strutting Mick Jagger? Maybe. We couldn’t possibly know. But his attraction to Hall is probably about more than just her attractiveness.
There’s something specific about her that represents his idealized version of himself.
And the same is true for Hall. There’s something about Murdoch that reflects who she wants to become, or who she believes she already is.
“How similar you believe you are to someone is more important that how similar you actually are in reality,” says Lewandowski.
Of course, it’s also possible that they’re together for reasons none of us could begin to understand.
Horan has done numerous studies on romantic love, and as he’s the first to admit, sometimes there’s just no accounting for it.
“Uncertainty makes us uncomfortable,” he says. “And when couples don’t match, that violates our norms and expectations. But not every marriage is one-size-fits-all.”